Have you heard of the Hawker Centres in Singapore? Think of multi-cultural food markets that are every bit as diverse as the people that call the country home. Found all over the city, these massive markets serve up the best food from around Southeast Asia at affordable prices. After eating at almost every Singapore Hawker Centre, we’ve narrowed it down to a few of our favorites! Here’s 8 of the best Hawker Centres, unique dishes to try, and must-visit food stalls.
What is a Singapore Hawker Centre?
In the 1960’s, Singapore’s streets were overcrowded with unlicensed food vendors. Still seen today in less developed nations across the world, this type of unsanitary food sales can cause serious health issues.
As you can imagine, it can be extremely detrimental to the tourist industry of a budding nation. So in one big push to deal with the negatives of the street vendor scene, the city created these Singapore food markets known as Hawker Centres.
Now that all the vendors were in the same place, it became easier to hold them up to proper health standards. Over time, licensing and stiff laws were put into place, crafting the Singapore Hawker Centres into what they’ve become today.
One thing to know is that the Hawker Centres in Singapore are actually considered an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO! While actual historical places like the Singapore Botanical Gardens were named a UNESCO site, the hawker culture as a whole gained recognition in 2020.
Hawker Centres Have the Best Food in Singapore
In terms of Asia, Singapore is known as one of the more expensive countries to visit. And while you can find plenty of high-end restaurants and luxurious places to stay around the city, the best food is actually cheap! That’s because you can find it at the many Hawker Centres sprinkled around Singapore.
The best food centers have typical dishes representing each Asian country. However, for every dish you know, you can probably count on finding at least five you’ve never heard of. The most common flavors are a blend of Indian, Malaysian, and Chinese cooking.
Duck noodle, chicken and rice, dumplings, chili crab, and fresh cane juice are some of the tamed, but delicious options you’ll come across. Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone and try something new!
8 Top Hawker Centres in Singapore
When looking for where to eat in Singapore you should know that these eating establishments are all over the city. Some will appear right in front of you, while other Singapore Hawker Centres take some hunting down.
This Asian metropolis has dozens of epic food courts so it’d be impossible to hit them all. Still, you’d be surprised how many you can get to with just a 2 day itinerary! Here’s a list of some of our favorite Hawker Centres in Singapore, and the variety of food you can find at them.
1. Maxwell Food Centre
Favorite Dishes: Wonton Noodle and Oyster Omelette
Location: 1 Kadayanallur Street, Singapore
Anthony Bourdain made Tian Tian Hainanese chicken rice known to every traveler when he ate at the stall filming No Reservations. It has since become a must-stop at Maxwell Food Centre. However, Tian Tian isn’t the only awesome thing to try at this Singapore Hawker Center!
Our other favorite dishes at the Maxwell Food Centre are the Wonton Noodle, duck noodle with pork, and fried Oyster cakes. Chinatown is one of our favorite areas to stay so it’s great to have the street food stalls of Maxwell close by.
2. Golden Mile Food Centre
Favorite Dish: Chili Prawn Noodles & Laksa
Nearby Attractions: Arab Street, Sultan Mosque & Golden Mile Shopping Complex
Location: 505 Beach Road, Singapore
Our first experience at the Golden Mile was at 5:30am trying to fight off jet lag, and wandering the streets looking to fill our empty stomachs. Mostly everything was shut down this early, but there was one lone food stall warrior… And you better believe they were open trying to get those early bird customers!
There is nothing like slurping back a bowl of mixed meat and fish ball noodle soup to get the day going. Hands down, this was one of the spiciest local dishes we’ve ever eaten!
So spicy it almost brought us to tears. Yet, so good we were back at 6am the next day craving another bowl. This Hawker Centre in Singapore serves a range of good food from around Southeast Asia.
On our past visit we ventured to find something new, and found one stall that was always packed. Chung Cheng serves up a Chili Mee which you can order dry or as a soup. Also, you can never go wrong with a flavorful bowl of Laksa!
3. Lau Pa Sat
Favorite Dish: Day Time Duck Noodle & Night Time Satay
Nearby Attractions: Singapore Harbor Walk, Marina Bay Sands, & Merlion
Location: 51 telok ayer street, Singapore
Also known as Telok Ayer Market, Lau Pa Sat is a Hawker Centre catering particularly to tourists and workers. While other Hawker Centres may give off a more local vibe, this one is a bit different with its location in the Central Business District.
Also, it’s close proximity to the harbor and Merlion Park has made it a great place to eat. The historic architecture alone is downright stunning, with an open air concept and high ceilings that are sure to impress.
We’ve eaten here many times and the meals are always good! They will run you $1-2 more due to the prime location. Still, the affordable food is still less than you’ll pay at an actual restaurant.
Out of all the Hawker Centres in Singapore, Lau Pa Sat plays host to our favorite dish ever. The one we dream about every time we think of Singapore. Duck noodle with picked jalapeños is as good as it gets! You can find it right across from Hawker Centres main juice fruit stand.
Hawker Centre Satay
There is actually one more thing you should know about Lau Pa Sat Hawker Centre. When the sun goes down, the grills come out, and hundreds of tables are set up outside for customers.
Satay Street has lamb, chicken, and beef up for grabs, but our favorite is the juicy shrimp. The seafood also goes great with an ice cold Tiger Beer!
4. Chinatown Complex Food Centre
Favorite Dish: Soya Sauce Chicken Rice and Noodle, Fish Head Soup, & Dragonfruit Shake
Nearby Attractions: Chinatown, Buddha Tooth Relic Temple, & Clarke Quay Mall
Location: 335 Smith Street, Singapore
Ready to experience the largest Hawker Centre in Singapore? Complete with over 260 stalls, this multi-floor market is located in the heart of Chinatown. Honestly, if you can’t find something you like here then you might want to rethink your travel plans in Asia!
You won’t have to hold anything back either because the Chinatown Complex has some the most reasonable prices in Singapore. Typically, meals cost just $2-4 at this epic Hawker Centre.
The food is located on the second floor of the building, while the ground floor is more of a shopping hall. If you’re up for it, you can even venture into the basement to see the local wet market.
This is one of the best Hawker Centres to experience for the more adventurous foodies. Some of the wilder dishes are fish head soup and the delicious char kway teow. If you are overwhelmed you can always jump on a Chinatown Hawker 8 dish tasting tour!
Liao Fan Hawker Chan
Chinatown Complex is also home one of the most popular stalls in Singapore. Liao Fan Hawker Chan was the first Hawker stand to be awarded the Michelin Star.
Since then it’s been serving up its famous Soya Sauce Chicken Rice & Noodle since 2009. It’s definitely worth trying. Yet, just know if you go in the afternoon you may have a bit of a line!
5. Tekka Centre
Favorite Dish: Mutton Masala with Naan
Near By Attractions: Little India, Mustafa Centre, & Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple
Location: Bukit Timah Rd, Singapore
If you thought we’d leave out Little India, then think again! This amazing Hawker Centre may be a bit out of the ordinary, but in the best sense possible.
Random curry smells float through the air, and there are countless storefronts where you can get your Indian food fix.
As soon as we arrive we always head straight to the Masala Dosa stand. From there, we usually indulge the mutton masala with biryani rice and naan bread.
There’s no shortage of good local foods if you don’t know where to start consider taking a street food tour of the Tekke Centre!
6. Newton Food Center
Favorite Dish: Seafood, Shrimp, Cockles, and Chilli King Crab
Nearby Attractions: Orchard Road, Forum Shopping Mall, and Little India
Location: Newton, Singapore
This awesome Singapore Hawker Centre also goes by Newton Food Circle or Newton Circus for how its best stalls are arranged. Recently it gained global recognition for being featured in the blockbuster hit Crazy Rich Asians.
Located near the ritzy shopping area of Orchard Road, you will see fewer stands here and higher prices. Still, it’s one of the best places to eat if you’re in the area. Meals here range from traditional noodles and rice to a surplus of tasty seafood.
7. Hong Lim Market & Food Centre
Favorite Dish: Laksa
Nearby Attractions: Chinatown and Chinatown Complex Food Centre
Location: 531 A Upper Cross Street, Singapore
Hong Lim is just a few blocks from the popular Chinatown Complex Food Centre, and has two stories of stalls. As one of the oldest Hawker Centres in Singapore, it’s actually more popular with locals than tourists. The good news is that these incredible food courts are welcoming to all customers!
During the daily lunch rush the entire place feels like it’s going to explode with long queues as dozens of people snaking their way through the stalls. It has everything from pork noodles and peanut filled pancakes to cold brew floral tea and giant bowls of crawfish prawn.
The one warning about this Singapore Hawker Centre is many of the stands will sell out early. Basically, they’re open until they run out of food and that’s it!
This means after the lunch rush the most popular choice for food may be done for the day. Just make sure to get to Hong Lim early if there’s something special you wanted to try.
8. Old Airport Road Food Centre
Favorite Dish: Kway Teow
Nearby Attractions: Singapore Sports Hub
Location: 51 Old Airport Road, Singapore
Old Airport Road is one of the most historic and beloved Singapore Hawker Centres! This famous market is just outside of the city center, but the longer trip is well worth it.
Lines and lines of stalls run through the old building showcasing some of the most delicious Hawker food in the city. The dishes here are diverse and overwhelming, so it can be fun to go with a big group and sample a few different items.
Have any questions about this article or want to share your own favorite Hawker Centres in Singapore? Let us know in the comments below!
Brigitte & Jake
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Where to Stay Around the Singapore Hawker Centres
Luxury – Marina Bay Sands – We stayed at the Marina Bay Sands for Jake’s 30th birthday and it blew away our expectations. Aside from the luxury amenities, swimming in the rooftop infinity pool will be the highlight of your visit!
Iconic – Raffles Hotel – As one of the most historic hotels Southeast Asia, staying at the Raffles Hotel will be an experience like no other. Enjoy a Singapore Sling and take in the amazing architecture of this landmark built in 1887.
Fun Vacation– Parkroyal on Pickering– It doesn’t get much more green and lush then Parkroyal on Pickering! This fun vacation spot is literally one of the greenest hotels in the world. Plant life covers the entire property to make for a unique stay in Singapore.
Boutique – KēSa House – Located in Chinatown, this fantastic hotel was built in 1920’s. Enjoy the incredible setting in the heart of the city in a traditional building on Keong Saik Road.
Hostel – Hipstercity hostel – Fun hostel in downtown Singapore with both private and dorm rooms. Great place to meet other travelers to explore the city with.
Singapore Travel Planning
Activities: 23 Fun Things to Do – Butterfly Garden – Supertree Grove – Gardens by the Bay – Marina Bay Sands – Haji Lane – Singapore Sling at Raffles Hotel – Singapore Jewel – Marina Bay Sands Infinity Pool
Tours: Check out Get Your Guide for activities all over Singapore. You can book everything from a Singapore Highlights Bike Tour to a Gardens by the Bay E-Ticket, and even a private food tour with 10 tastings!
Travel Insurance: Never travel abroad without being covered. We’ve been using SafetyWing for the last few years on the road and they are there when we need them.